Sept. 2022 Ontonagon

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DeepRootsThe OF APPLEMICHIGAN’SINDUSTRY Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association September/October 2022 COUNTRYMICHIGANLINES Meet Ontonagon’s New General Manager New District 3 and District 5 AnnouncedDirectors

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Contents September 2022 Vol. 42, No. 8 /michigancountrylines CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information. The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised. EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS. Association Officers: Robert Kran , Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson , Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker , Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr , president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 248-534-735848933 Michigan’sCooperativesElectric MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit! Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18. GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for published!stories Submit your fondest memories and stories at RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Healthy Living, due Nov. 1 Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to 6 ROAD TRIPPIN’ WITH CHRISTAL FROST Legends, Loss, & Restoration: A day spent on South Manitou Island. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Pasta Salads: These classics are perfect for your next cookout! 14 THE DEEP ROOTS OF MICHIGAN’S APPLE INDUSTRY The Mitten State’s climate— coupled with their growers’ devotion—make apples a booming business for local farmers. 18 GUEST COLUMN An everyday raccoon hunt became a lesson in courage that will last a lifetime for one PIE&G member. #micoopcommunity A blue heron takes flight @sarah.k.smith.180 (Sarah Smith) Be featured! Use featuredfor#micoopcommunityachancetobehereandonourInstagramaccount. 3MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

• Develop a plan for communicating with family and friends (e.g., via text, social media, third party, etc.).

ith severe weather events occurring more frequently, now more than ever, it makes sense to be prepared. During a prolonged power outage or another emergency, this means having enough food, water, and supplies to last at least a few days.

• Microchip your pet and ensure the contact information is up to date.

• Store pet medical records on a USB drive or in an easy-to-remember location.

500 J.K. Paul Street Ontonagon, MI 49953 After800-562-7128906-884-4151hours:866-639-6098 OFFICERS & DIRECTORS William Hodges, President Lake Linden 906-934-3743District• Calvin Koski, Vice President Aura 906-524-6988District • Mildred Ann Gasperich, Secretary Boston District  906-337-5079 • Randy Myhren, Treasurer Green/Firesteel/Toivola District 906-884-4092 Jack Lehto, Director Pelkie/Herman/Aura District 906-353-6684 • Michael Urbis, Director Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine District 906-988-2344 • Michael Gaunt, Director Chassell/Keweenaw Bay District 906-370-8133 • PERSONNEL Debbie Miles Eugene Soumis, General Manager Fay Hauswirth, Billing Clerk Mark Urbis, Line Superintendent OTHER INFORMATION Date of Incorporation: Sept. 30, 1937 Fiscal year-end: Dec. /OntonagonCountyREA 4 SEPTEMBER 2022

Eugene Soumis, General Manager W

Here are general guidelines recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

Even at a modest level, preparation can help reduce stress and anxiety and lessen the impact of an emergency event. We recommend starting with the basics.

• Organize your supplies, so they are together in an easily accessible location that family members know about.

• Fill your car with gas.

In honor of National Preparedness Month in September, I want to remind members of our community about the power of preparation. While you don’t have to achieve a “doomsday prepper” level of preparedness, there are several practical steps you can take to keep you and your family safe.

• Store important documents (birth certificates, property deed, etc.) in a safe place away from home (for example, a bank safe deposit box).

The Power of Preparation

• Have some extra cash available; electronic card readers and cash machines may not work during a power outage.

Pets can become disoriented and frightened during severe weather and may wander off during an emergency.

Caring for vulnerable family members

For families with pets, having a plan in place in the event of a prolonged outage or an emergency will help reduce worry and stress, especially if you need to make a decision during an •emergency.

At Ontonagon REA, we care about your safety. Planning for an emergency today can give you more confidence to deal with severe weather and potential outages in the future.

• Create an emergency kit for pets (include shelf-safe food, bottled water, medications, and other supplies).

Keeping four-legged family members safe

• Keep neighbors and coworkers apprised of your emergency plans.

If you have older family members or those with special needs, make sure they have enough medication and supplies for a few days. If they don’t live with you, arrange for a neighbor to check in on them. If a severe weather event is expected, consider having your relative stay with you if feasible; otherwise, call them daily. If you have an infant or young children, make certain that you have ample formula, diapers, medication, and other supplies on hand to weather an outage lasting several days or more.

Bring pets indoors at the first sign of a storm or other emergency.

• Assemble a grab-and-go disaster kit. Include items like nonperishable food, water (one gallon per person, per day), diapers, batteries, flashlights, prescription medications, first-aid kit, battery-powered radio, and phone chargers.

ntonagon REA has named Eugene Soumis as the cooperative’s new general manager, succeeding Debbie Miles, who is retiring from the cooperative. Miles will continue with Ontonagon for an undetermined period to assist in the Soumis,transition.anative of Chassell, joined Ontonagon REA after working as the manager of engineering for Upper Peninsula Power Company as well as serving as facility manager for the UMERC RICE Generating Stations located near Marquette and L’Anse. The 10 UMERC units are the largest generating resource in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association contracted with the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA) to administer the Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) efforts to comply with PA-295 as amended. MECA filed a two-year EWR plan with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on July 28, 2019, as required by PA 295 as amended. The MPSC approved this EWR plan on Dec. 8, 2019, and we began implementing our 2020–2021 EWR Plan Jan. 1, 2020. Slipstream was selected to implement all Residential, Commercial/Industrial Programs, and the Energy Waste Reduction website, Slipstream has subcontracted with WES Utility Services, Michigan Energy Options, ES Contracting, and Nuwati, LLC to assist with implementing the EWR programs. MECA contracted with DNV-GL as the independent third-party evaluation contractor for the certification of kWh savings.

In 2021, Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association collected $70,365 through the Energy Waste Reduction Surcharge and spent $76,486, resulting in an under-collection of $6,121. Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association achieved 389 MWh of energy savings in 2021 compared to their annual kWh goal of 286 MWh. The full report can be obtained at your cooperative’s headquarters and or


Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association MPSC Case Number U-20385

Public Act 295 as amended: The Clean and Renewable Energy and Energy Waste Reduction Act 2021 Energy Waste Reduction Annual Report


Effective Sept. 6, 2022, Ontonagon REA will return to winter office hours and will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST, Monday–Friday.

“Ontonagon’s board of directors is pleased to announce the hiring of Eugene Soumis as our new general manager,” said William Hodges, Ontonagon County REA board chairman. “Eugene’s 33+ years in the electric utility and other industries will be a tremendous asset for our member-consumers throughout Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula.” Soumis began his new position with Ontonagon in late June after the board of directors concluded an extensive search and interview process. Soumis is married with four adult children and resides in Ontonagon.

Ontonagon Names Eugene Soumis As New General Manager

Fueling Up

The day began in downtown Leland at Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co.’s Breakfast Bistro, where I enjoyed a delicious omelette and steaming mug of Sumatra dark roast.

Afterwards, a quick stop across the street to the Leland Mercantile for supplies, and then down to the waterfront to Manitou Island Transit—our ride to South Manitou.

think everyone can relate to wanting to “get away from it all.” The chance to disconnect from our modern lives and reconnect with nature, and ourselves, is not just appealing…it’s necessary.

Pro Tip: Be sure to bring snacks, lunch, and water with you to the island!

South Manitou Today Although two family cottages remain, it’s not home to permanent residents. Instead, it’s occupied by National Park Service rangers, campers, and day trippers, like us.

Exploring Manitou Island Transit offered a tour, and our first stop was a “farmhouse” with the most amazing waterfront view I’ve ever seen. Built by the Burton Family in the late 1800s, this idyllic structure—featuring eight rooms, each with its own sink—was purchased in the early 1900s by those who wanted to push the island resort transformation. As previously noted, that never came to be. Now, the boarded-up house is home only to a large bat population.

Arrival When our ferry docked and we set foot on South Manitou, the first thing I noticed was the beauty. Lake Michigan is remarkable from any vantage point, but being surrounded I by her blue waters was magnificent. The second thing I noticed was how incredibly quiet the island is, immersing myself in the natural sounds of rustling wind in the trees and light waves almost tiptoeing to meet the shore.

In the southwest corner of the island lies a valley of cedars that time forgot, twice the typical size. Being underneath

Legends, Loss, & Restoration A Day Spent on South Manitou Island By Christal FrostTRIPPIN'ROAD


That’s what I kept thinking about as I hiked through the majestic beauty of South Manitou Island, just 16 miles off the coast of Northwest Michigan and yet another world away from where I’d woken up that morning.

The History Settled in the 1830s by William Burton, the island was first seen as another resource for timber, but logging operations eventually fizzled because of difficulty getting there. A small village formed, and at one point many thought South Manitou might become a vacation destination, but, again, the travel difficulty ended those plans.

Saying Goodbye As we sat on the dock, awaiting the ferry’s return, I couldn’t help but already miss the island I had yet to leave. It is a place to slow down, reflect, and appreciate the strident majesty of Lake Michigan. Plans to return to camp are already in the books.

The island has seen its fair share of tragedy and is riddled with heartbreaking tales of slaughtered native tribes, sailors dead from cholera thrown into mass graves, and lighthouse keepers losing children to the harsh waves of the Manitou Passage. And, of course, the over 50 shipwrecks surrounding both North and South Manitou. None are more visually striking than the Francisco Morazon, located off the southern shore. She passed over another shipwreck and ran aground in 1960. Seven years later, Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley filed a lawsuit to have the wreck removed, citing rotting cargo and leaking fuel oil as a health hazard. The next day, the Francisco Morazon caught fire, and all its contents were consumed in flames. The shipwreck is now property of the state.


ManitouSouthIsland ManitouNorthIsland

See the MANITOUSOUTHISLANDinAction Christal Frost filmed her adventure, now available on

Christal Frost is a northern Michigan native and frequent explorer of the Mitten state.

these gigantic trees reminds me of the Japanese concept of “forest bathing,” or “taking in the forest atmosphere.” No soap and water required—the practice encourages you to spend time in nature, citing all the restorative effects that time in the woods has on a person.


There are three campgrounds on S. Manitou Island. Campers must bring their own tents and water filtration equipment because there is no source of purified drinking water. There is no transportation for gear, so campers must pack in their own supplies. No outside firewood is allowed on the island. Instead, campers may collect dead and down wood for personal use.

• Inspect your dryer vent periodically: machine run more efficiently and reduces fire hazards. Also, use rigid venting materials, not plastic.

Photo Credit: Philips Get smart about lighting.

• Dry on lower heat settings: Even if you dry for a longer amount of time, lower heat means less energy consumption.

• Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets: help keep clothes separated for faster drying.


• Purchase ENERGY STAR ® -rated washers and dryers. New washers and dryers that receive the ENERGY STAR ® rating use about 20% less energy than conventional models.

• Use the highest spin speed: Doing so removes more moisture from your clothes, reducing drying time.

Explore Michigan customers: This website is your one-stop shop for all things energy efficiency. Learn about ways to save money and apply for rebates on energyefficient appliances. You can also participate in free programs to help you assess and improve your home’s overall efficiency. Business and farm programs are available as well.

Smart light bulbs o er convenient control through voice commands or a smart phone app, and you can save additional energy (and money!) with LED options.

• Wash with cold water: Switching from warm water to cold water can cut one load’s energy use by more than half.

Save Energy In Your Laundry Room

• Wash full loads: Your washing machine uses the same amount of energy no matter the size of the clothes load, so fill it up.

• Dry heavier cotton separately: Loads dry faster and more evenly.

• Clean the lint filter after every load: helps reduce a potential fire hazard and improves air circulation.

• Use the cool-down feature on your dryer: finish drying with the remaining heat in the dryer.

PHOTOCONTEST Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit! Ontonagon REA members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines will be entered in a drawing. Four lucky members will win a credit of $50 on their December 2022 energy bills! Upcoming Topic and Deadline: Christmas Trees, due Sept. 20 (Nov./Dec. issue) To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to We look forward to seeing your best photos! Enter to win a energy$50billcredit! 431 2 Farms & Harvest 1. Picking apples with Grandpa Hyrkas. Keith Narhi 2. Washing veggies for supper! Kendra Turpeinen 3. Hay field in front of an old country church. Ann Pihlaja 4. Hannah on the Niemi Farm. Cheryl Meszaros 9MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

1 pound uncooked orzo

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKameyMI CO-OP Recipes

SUMMER ORZO SALAD Linda Kindy Hoch, Cherryland

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, coarsely

1 teaspoon kosher salt 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup), ½dividedcuproasted, salted pistachios, chopped Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta feels cool to the touch. While pasta is cooking, stir together the pesto, oil, lemon juice, and zest in a large bowl. Add the pasta, beans, tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, salt, and a ½ cup feta cheese to the pesto mixture. Stir to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with pistachios and remaining ½ cup of feta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

1 (15-ounce) can white beans (I use cannellini), drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons lemon zest + 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1choppedcuphalf-moon sliced cucumber (from a large cucumber or 2–3 mini cucumbers)

WINNING RECIPE! RECIPE CONTEST Healthy Living due Nov. 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to Win energy$50abillcredit! PASTA SALADS These classics are perfect for your next cookout! 10 SEPTEMBER 2022

¹⁄ ³ cup basil pesto (homemade or jarred)

2 cups shredded cheese (choose your favorite, we like sharp cheddar)

5 ounces Spicy V8 juice • salt and pepper, to taste 1 small box couscous (about 1 cup dried) Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature for 4 hours. Serve immediately.

3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

MACARONI SALAD Nancy Masters, Great Lakes Energy 6 ounces short-cut elbow macaroni • diced or sliced radishes, green peppers & green onions (equaling the amount of the cooked macaroni)

1 pound ground beef, cooked/ drained (for vegetarian, sub 1 can black beans—or half meaty and half meat-free)

3 tablespoons taco seasoning

¼ cup red wine vinegar

²⁄ ³ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound rotini (or any shape of pasta), cooked, drained, and rinsed with cold water • any color bell pepper, diced • small onion, diced 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or quarters if they are big fellas)


1 tablespoon chopped marjoram leaves

• scant teaspoon chopped mint leaves • salt & pepper, to taste

10 cherry tomatoes, halved 1 small red onion, chopped 1 green bell pepper, chopped 1 red bell pepper, chopped ½ cucumber, partially or fully peeled, sliced ½ cup sliced black or Kalamata olives

1 fresh red bell pepper, diced 1 red onion, diced 1 cucumber, diced ½ bunch cilantro, chopped ½ bunch parsley, chopped ¼ bunch mint, chopped 4 tomatoes, diced 3 lemons, juiced ¾ cup olive oil

2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves

2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

NO-COOK TABBOULEH SALAD Jean Nishimoto, Great Lakes Energy

GREEK PASTA SALAD Martha Grose, Great Lakes Energy

2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 teaspoons dried oregano • salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1½ cups French dressing

9¾ ounce bag nacho-flavored Doritos, crushed Pasta salad is great, and so are tacos. Why not bring the best of both together? Stir together beef (or black beans) with the taco seasoning. In a big bowl, combine beef (or black beans) with the noodles, pepper, onion, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce. Then mix in the French dressing until everything is well combined. Lastly, stir in the chips (wait to do this until you are ready to serve so they keep their crunch!).

2 cups penne pasta

• Hellmann’s mayonnaise (don’t substitute), to taste Prepare the day before serving to allow flavors to blend. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Rinse under cool water. Add vegetables, eggs, herbs, seasonings, and mayonnaise. Extra mayo should be added the next day to moisten the salad. Makes 6–8 servings.

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the penne, and return to a boil. Cook pasta, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 11 minutes.


Rinse with cold water and drain well in a colander. Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set aside. Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, green and red peppers, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese in a large bowl. Pour vinaigrette over the pasta and mix together. Cover and chill for 3 hours before serving. Serves 8.

2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves

He enjoys what he humorously terms “a hobby gone bad greenhouse,” where he sells approximately 2,000 tomato plants each spring, along with hundreds of flowers. His hobbies include deer hunting and cutting 10 full cords of wood each year to heat his home and greenhouse in the winter.

Director Gaunt has permanently resided in the Copper Country since 2006. He began his career as a schoolteacher

Meet Your New Directors

His interest in serving on the board is rooted in concerns for the future of the U.P. “Electricity will keep playing a more critical role in our society and our economy, just like water does out west. We need to be on top of current issues and technology, yet retain the best of what we have already accomplished. I want to do what’s right for the U.P. as we have a unique situation here.”

Director Lehto ran unopposed and is filling this position after Wayne Heikkinen recently stepped down after 43 years of service on the board of directors. Director Lehto graduated from Baraga High School and Northern Michigan University. He spent 21 years in the U.S. Navy as an electronics tech specializing in nuclear reactors on submarines. After retiring from the Navy, he worked as a teacher at L’Anse High School and an electronics tech for Infrared Telemetrics. He concluded his career working as an operator at the L’Anse Warden Power Plant.


Mike Gaunt, District 5 Mike Gaunt is the new director for District 5—Chassell/ Keweenaw Bay. He ran unopposed for the position previously held by George Rajala, who did not run for re-election.

He and his wife Kimberlee reside in Chassell and spend weekends on beautiful Keweenaw Bay in the summer. Together, they have four children ranging in age from 15 to 24.

Jack Lehto, District 3 Ontonagon REA is pleased to announce Jack Lehto as the new director for District 3—Pelkie/Herman/Aura.

Director Lehto’s interest in serving on the board was initiated because of his interest in solar power. “I thought that as a member who utilizes solar power on their farm, I could offer that point of view to the board,” he said. “I also felt that it was important that our district be represented, and I decided to throw my hat in the ring.”

“I thought that as a member who utilizes solar power on their farm, I could offer that point of view to the board.”

“I think that despite any differences we may have, we also have common values we can build upon, and I am committed to listening to and representing all District 5 members.”

Director Lehto brings a wealth of experience to the board as he has been involved in many civic organizations in the community. These include serving as VFW Post 4676

vice commander, the Pelkie Volunteer Fire Department, the Ottawa Sportsmen’s Club board of directors, and the president of the Mission United Lutheran Church Council. He and his wife Lynn have two adult children and live on a Centennial farm in Baraga. and administrator and has worked in behavioral health for the last decade. He is currently the assistant director for the Phoenix House in Calumet, Ontonagon, and Bessemer, covering the five western U.P. counties.

His concern for making the best use of resources and the least possible impact on the earth has spanned decades, and he considers serving on the board a new opportunity to continue his efforts. “I think that despite any differences we may have, we also have common values we can build upon, and I am committed to listening to and representing all District 5 members,” he said.


“You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.”

—C.S. Lewis

This June, Van Houten, from Riverton, Illinois, stopped off at the Ontonagon REA offices to begin a circle tour of Lake Superior. When touring the United States, he typically leaves his van in the parking lot of an electric cooperative near where he is biking. Van Houten logged 1,150 miles on his 17-day tour that took him through Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada. When asked how he enjoyed his trip, he said, “It was wonderful. And I very much enjoyed the flat sections of the roads.”

Best wishes to all our mini-members (and parents) for a wonderful school year!


The motive behind his endeavors and what propels him is simple. “I just like to set goals and meet them,” he said. Having run a marathon in every state in the U.S., including Hawaii, one of his new goals is to ride his bike in every continental state, and he only has five states left to reach his goal. C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.” It appears that Don Van Houten has taken this adage to heart.


Age Is Just A Number or retired Illinois Association of Electric Cooperative employee Don Van Houten, age truly is just a number, and his numbers are impressive.

At age 77, he has run 67 marathons, ridden his bike from coast to coast in the U.S., hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, and canoed the length of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, as well as 850 miles of the Missouri River. And he accomplished all these endurance activities after the age of 56. “I got a late start, but I caught up quick,” he says with a grin. And what makes this more amazing is that he accomplished these athletic feats after three back surgeries, an ankle surgery, and surviving a cancer diagnosis. “I would rather wear out than rust out,” he says. ”I have a little arthritis, so I figure I need to keep moving, or I might freeze up.”


t’s easy to picture roadside stands and quaint orchards when we think about apples, but right along with those nostalgic mental pictures is a booming industry in our state.

By Emily Haines Lloyd I

“The connection a family has to their farm is unique. The roots literally run deep. It’s about family, food, as well as a legacy for us.”

It’s easy to see apples in our grocery stores and farmer’s markets, but there are many less-obvious areas where Michigan apples are utilized. Interestingly, Michigan apples

“We take pride in all of our products,” said Scott Kromer, owner and operator of Knaebe’s Apple Farm, a PIE&G member in Rogers City. “We’re not only feeding your family, but our own. The orchard is our yard. It’s part of the community—and we put our whole heart into what we do.”


Over a five-year period, Michigan apple orchards produced approximately 25 million bushels on over 700 farms, making the Great Lakes state the third-largest producer in the nation. Our doctor-repelling products are sold in over 30 states and nearly 20 different countries, making Michigan apples a pretty impressive business.

“It’s easy to think that the only way to support local apple producers is to buy from the farmer’s market or a nearby orchard,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “But every Michigan apple farm is family-owned, so when you buy Michigan apples in your local supermarket or even a big-box store, you’re supporting a local farm and family.”

Jon Friske, a third-generation farmer and Great Lakes Energy member who runs Friske Farm Market in Ellsworth with his siblings, Heidi and Rich, agrees.

—Jon Friske are particularly coveted for the production of pies for national brands, as well as the more recent need for highquality apples in the “fresh slice” industry (think about your kid’s favorite Happy Meal) and the booming hard cider Michiganindustry.apples appeal to all industries because of their wide variety of flavors. Michigan’s specific climate and weather conditions lend to the specific flavor profiles, with local soil, temperatures, and the warm days and cool nights of the Mitten State adding to the tastiness. Growing conditions aside, Michigan apples are particularly special due to the farmers’ hard work and energy put into the crop.


Knaebe’s Apple Farm

If reliable energy enables the farms, it is the farmers’ hearts and souls that truly power the industry.

“We appreciate the way our co-op communicates with us. We get a lot of information and feel very involved,” said Friske. “It really is a partnership.”


Friske Farm Market

Pictured from left to right: Scott, Matthew, Alison, and Luke.

The pride in growing amazing products is vital, as is a reliable energy source, according to both farms. At Knaebe’s, Kromer and his family had a tree fall on a power line the day before they took over ownership of the farm, but with a quick response from PIE&G, they were able to face their opening day with running coolers and operating cash registers. At Friske Farm, they’ve invested in several energy upgrades, including a solar photovoltaic system for their on-site housing unit, and are evaluating and considering a geothermal system for the new farm market.

If you’re looking to support the hardworking apple farms of Michigan, check out this handy locator:

“The connection a family has to their farm is unique,” said Friske. “The roots literally run deep. It’s about family, food, as well as a legacy for us.”

Standing in front of Ida Red apples planted by Grandpa Friske (Richard Sr.).

“All of our apple farmers are this amazing combination of artists, gamblers, and scientists. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world,” said Smith. “We’re so proud of the work they do and the legacy they have created and continue to build for our state.”

Pictured from left to right: Evelyn (who was pregnant with now 3½-month-old son Laith), Jon, Ryker, Kasey, Tessa, Rich, Richard Jr., Wendy, Heidi, Eddie, Clara, and Kenny.


• A prize drawing was held, and seven members received a credit on their electric bills ranging from $15 to $100. The meeting concluded with a luncheon served by Syl’s Café of Ontonagon. Brett Niemi of WPPI gave a follow-up presentation on their Energy Waste Reduction Program.

• The newly appointed cooperative general manager, Eugene Soumis, was introduced. Mr. Soumis said he looked forward to working with the board and serving the members.

• A quorum was not present, so the previous year’s meeting minutes could not be approved.

• Paulette Archambeau, election committee chairperson, announced the winner for the only contested board of director election for District 1—Green/Firesteel/Toivola. Incumbent Randy Myhren received 84 votes, and Robin Mueller received 50 votes.

The board reviewed the composition of the board districts and agreed that no changes were needed. The board agreed to sign a threeyear Energy Waste Reduction agreement with WPPI. With the help of Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, the board is exploring possible growth options. A motion to make a $200 donation to each volunteer fire department in the co-op service territory did not pass a roll call vote. • President Koski reviewed the manager/CEO hiring process.

Annual Meeting Recap

• Debbie Miles reported on overall co-op operations in 2021, including information on the new outagemapping technology, the growth in Kwh sales, and the contract with WPPI.

• Wayne Heikkinen, recently retired director for District 3—Pelkie/ Herman/Aura, was recognized with a plaque for his 43 years of service on the board of directors.


Your Board In Action March •

The board was updated on the AMI Vision system. The board was informed that the Rural Utilities System had approved the AG8 loan of $8.2 million.

April •

• During questions and answers, the board and staff fielded various questions regarding underground lines, how to increase attendance at the annual meeting, and voting rules.

The board discussed possible growth. Line Superintendent Urbis and Manager Miles gave monthly reports. The board was notified that a shipment of over 1,400 AMI Vision meters is on the way.

ntonagon County Rural Electrification Association (OCREA) held its Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 18, at Chassell High School. Members from the co-op’s seven-district service area attended the event, which featured election results, reports from the co-op staff and board of directors, prize drawings, and a luncheon. The meeting was chaired by Patrick Greeley, chief legal counsel for Ontonagon REA.

• Line Superintendent Mark Urbis reported on distribution operations, including the new metering system and the difference the brushing crews have made in reducing outages.

• Manager Miles gave a report and update on plans for the annual meeting. The possibility of extending the current wholesale power contract with Wolverine was discussed. The board was advised that a shipment of 2,400 more of the AMI Vision meters was on its way. Attorney Greeley advised the board that he had yet to receive a response from Menge’s attorney.

Air fryers are available in various sizes, and prices range from $40 to over $200. Electric griddles have certainly been around for a while, and they offer several benefits for any home chef (beyond bacon and eggs!). Griddles are convenient because you can cook everything at once—like a “one-pan” meal. They consume small amounts of energy and provide quick cooking times, so your energy bill will thank you.


Three Electrifying Kitchen Appliances To Save Time And Energy

If you’re looking for convenient cooking methods with the bonus of energy efficiency, here are three electrifying appliances for your kitchen: Air fryers are becoming increasingly popular, and consumers have many good things to say about these handy little appliances. Air fryers use convection to circulate hot air and cook the food—this means little to no oil is required, resulting in healthier meals than those from traditional fryers. Air fryers are fairly small so that they won’t take up much of your counter space, and with everything cooked in the fryer, cleanup will be a breeze.


By Abby Berry || Photos courtesy of Hamilton Beach

Whether your oven and stovetop are powered by gas or electricity, it’s no secret that they consume more energy than smaller countertop appliances like slow cookers and toaster ovens. In addition to efficiency, smaller kitchen appliances can provide faster cooking times and less hassle with the cleanup.


Prices and sizes for griddles vary, but you can typically find one for about $30 at your local retail stores. Pizza brings people together, so why not consider a pizza maker for your kitchen? These compact countertop machines are an inexpensive alternative to a costly brick oven, and they use less energy than your traditional oven. Choose your own fresh ingredients to whip up a faster, healthier pizza at home. Plus, most pizza makers are multifunctional and can be used to cook flatbreads, frittatas, quesadillas, and more. You can purchase a pizza maker for about $30 to $150+ online or at your local retailer.

Coon Hunt


Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by Sept. 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at

Then Dad would wait until the raccoon would tree (climb into a tree) to get away from the dogs. The hounds would bark, howl, and stay there until Dad came and shot the raccoon. Then he would take the raccoon and the dogs back to the Jeep. Then started the process over as many times as possible within the limited time he had. One of our most memorable adventures started just like every other hunt. He and I went about four miles south of Maple Valley with two dogs in the back of the Jeep. The dogs started howling. Dad stopped and turned them loose. They were still heading east when their howling started to get fainter off into the woods. We started after them. I clearly remember walking a long time. I wasn’t paying attention to the dogs or anything except keeping up with Dad. It was a pleasant fall night, and we went far into the woods. Finally, Dad stopped and said, “Let’s take a break. OK??” I said, “Sure, Dad.” We sat and leaned against a giant oak tree. The next thing I remember was waking up in daylight. I was resting against my Dad, covered with his coat and very comfortable. He said it was time to go home. He took off his coat and left it next to that oak tree. He said the dogs would get tired of chasing that raccoon and track our scent back to the tree. They would lay down on the coat. He would come back and get them later. I figured it

John is a Vietnam combat veteran with two Purple Hearts. He is retired from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and enjoys his time hunting, fishing, and enjoying northern Michigan’s outdoors. was a part of the plan. Mom was upset about us being out hunting all night when we got home. I thought a little more about that hunting trip until I got older. When I look back on that night, what stands out is the appearance of normalcy. No hint that we may have been lost. No talk about anything that may have made me, a child, worry. I have tried to keep that strength whenever I get nervous or frightened with my family.

Where In Michigan Is This?

By John Vick, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member

July/August 2022 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Connie Bortle, a Thumb Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the Crossroads Village Carousel and Huckleberry Railroad park in Flint.  Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.

y dad had 17 coon hounds and a war surplus Willys Jeep (circa 1940s). It had a canvas top, a windshield, and no doors. I often went with him coon hunting. He would drive his Jeep slowly down back roads with the dogs strapped in the back seat of the Jeep. When the dogs would pick up the fresh scent of a raccoon, they would start howling and jumping around. Dad would stop the Jeep and let the dogs out. They would run off into the woods howling and running like their tails were on fire.

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit to submit.$150!Win Win a $50 energy bill credit!

M Column

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